Written by Cycling, Technology

Blaze Laserlight – A First Look

Back in November 2012, I backed my first Kickstarter project – the Blaze Bike Light – and today it arrived fresh from manufacture in China.

Blaze Laserlight – A First Look from Adam Bowie on Vimeo.

Now known as the Blaze Laserlight, its description basically explains what it does. It’s a regular bike light with a laser alongside that beams an image of a bicycle onto the road in front of it. The bike light is a fairly traditional type that offers either 100 lumens or 300 lumens output making it pretty bright. But it also comes with a green laser that projects a cycle image on the road ahead of you.

Having only got my device today, it would be unfair to call this a review because really I’ve only had a chance to use it getting home this evening. Think of this as a “first look” then.

The first thing you notice is the manufacturing quality which is gorgeous. The casings are all beautifully made in anodised and sandblasted aluminium, although the manufacturing speed means that they’re shifting to someone else after this initial batch. And it’s a weighty thing, coming in at just over 180g.

Out of the lovely box, there was already some charge in it, but I spent the afternoon using its bespoke USB charging cable to give it a full charge. While in some respects micro-USB would have been nicer as we all have lots of cables already, the magnetic charging device means that they can weather seal the light better. Other rechargeable bike lights I have rely on a plastic screw on cap to keep water out.

The main light offers a flashing 100 lumens mode, as well as constant 100 lumens and 300 lumens modes. Once a light mode has been engaged, you can choose whether to turn the laser on, and whether you want it to flash or to remain constant. In my brief usage, I tended to use the constant mode.

There are stickers aplenty around the outside warning you not to shine the laser in someone’s eye. The laser is quoted as being <5mW with a 510-525nm wavelength in case that's important to you.

What I can say is that it’s perfectly visible even in well lit central London streets. I should also add that a safety feature means that the laser is inoperable unless it’s on the mount. Obviously I went through a brief panic when I failed to turn on the laser when first getting out of the box and not reading the enclosed manual. I’m a bloke clearly.

The device comes with a mounting bracket and three thicknesses of rubber so you choose what’s best for your mounting situation. The design means that it overhangs back towards you rather than towards the front of the bike. And Blaze even supply a hex key to help you fit it. The mount isn’t quite as solid as I’d have liked – perhaps because of the weight of the light, I detected a small amount of movement. But in the scheme of things, that probably doesn’t matter. A trigger allows you to quickly remove the light from the mount. You won’t want to be leaving this light on your bike when you pop into the shops.

Incidentally, I had no problem attaching it to my S Type Brompton handlebar.

What you notice is that like any other mount, vibrations from the road surface will cause the laser to bounce around a bit. The very clean image is really only viewed when you’re completely still or if you’re on an incredibly smooth road.

Blaze suggest projecting the image about 5-6m ahead of you, and obviously depending on the height of your bike, this will affect the angle of the light. What I will say is that the light is much brighter than my existing Brompton’s lights, and I remain completely visible to oncoming traffic.

It should also be noted that although I left the light in a forward facing direction, you can tilt it left and right a bit should you wish the projection to be offset.

So what’s it like to ride with?

Well the first thing you’re going to have to get over is the fact that you will receive attention. I heard a few people comment on the laser as I rode around (although others were oblivious to it). One cyclist did pull over to have a chat about it, and I’d anticipate plenty such chats with fellow cyclists until there are more on the streets!

I did notice that in some circumstances when I was close to a cyclist in front of me, the projection jumped ahead of them, and I wondered if that might be off-putting.

Part of my route home is along a separated cycle path and I switched the laser off for this because there really shouldn’t be a need for it. Although ironically at one junction it might have prevented a motorist pulling out into the cycle lane had he seen the light.

My home stretch is on busier roads with few other cyclists and more traffic, and you know what, in a non-scientific single journey, it did feel like I was getting a bit more room. That may be my imagination, and time will be the only true test.

So in summary:

– It works well
– The light itself is an incredibly good and bright model
– The mounting seems to fit most bikes
– And it looks beautiful

The only problem you now face is getting one. I believe that Blaze is now taking orders for delivery in March priced at £125.